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What Have We Got Going for Us?
derF
Statistical studies have been conducted that show that atheists tend to score higher on the IQ test when compared to those who are religious and believe in God (Lynn, Harvey & Nyborg study). What do you think is the cause of this, and do you believe that this is a scientific example that we atheists simply have a better grip on reality?

Waiting for interesting and supporting views on this topic. And, even, antagonistic opinions on this topic!
I'll drink to that. Or anything else for that matter.
 
seeker
Interesting question.

Personally I think atheism requires a bit more thinking than theism in our culture. Atheism is much less likely to be what a person is taught as a child so to arrive at it requires an individual to overcome their initial programming.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
catman
It shows that atheists are better at applying critical thinking across the board, and probably value the concept more.
 
JohnH
This may be a chicken and egg discussion. To what extent is becoming an atheist predicted by intelligence (the measurement of which is problematic for many reasons) and to what extent the critical thinking allowed by atheism makes people more intelligent.

Those of us who are atheists should be careful about allowing our ego's to make too much of this.
 
catman
JohnH: I didn't say atheists are more intelligent. The ability to apply critical thinking to religion could be an indicator, but there are variables which might make it easier for one person to get to that point than another.
 
Doubting Thomas
I think it does show that atheists are more likely to apply critical thinking skills, but I think there is a definite connection between the amount of education one has and their religious beliefs. Of course that's my opinion and I don't have any cites to back it up, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case.
 
comfortable
I've been told that my IQ is well above average but I believe that there are different 'types' of intelligence. Someone who is excellent at math may be terrible with navigation/orientation and vice versa. I certainly find it difficult to comprehend 'normal' people (sheeple) and have to study extra hard just to fit in at all - while others 'swim' in an inter-personal sea of good relationships camaraderie, naturally, since the age of 5.

Speaking for myself, I am one of those difficult-to-please people who cannot accept obvious self-contradictions or faulty logic. I think that it was this 'personality trait' of mine (discarding illogical answers) that eventually led to my atheism.

Does my type of personality go hand-in-hand with high IQ? I couldn't say. They may be unrelated.

It's just that, as I grew older, my "B.S. detector" gained sensitivity. Heck, everyone's does. When you were young you would credulously believe in Santa Claus, but I daresay that by the age of 13, if a parent had first proposed to you that an elf that lives, say, at the equator, did in fact visit every teenager's home in a single evening - you would not buy it at all.

My personality difference won't allow me to stop following an assertion to it's logical conclusion, whilst others clearly shut off their chain-of-reasoning when it comes to matters of religion (or other dogma).
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The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.
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Men are sheep in credulity, but wolves for conformity.
 
Bob of QF
Interesting.

First, we'd have to return to what a typical "IQ" test actually measures.

Does the test include historical questions? That's a measure of memory, as much as anything.

Does it include solving math? Deducing information from incomplete data-sets? Story problems to solve? Human-interaction scenarios that require good insight into interpersonal actions to get to the desired answer?

None of the above?

What, exactly, is being tested?

That aside, presuming the test is typical of the several I've experienced in the past, most focus on a basic logic and reasoning skillset, and ignore the more subtle, but difficult-to-test skills such as what a successful local politician might have (so-called "people skills" ) .

If that's the case, then not only is it not surprising, it's to be expected:

People who's life-outlook includes strong logic and reasoning skills, will sooner or later, see through the false logic and faulting reasoning that all religions require.

But it also presumes that they have sufficient leisure time to think these issues to the logical conclusion-- some smart folk are simply too engaged with other things, to think about the pablum they grew up with-- and if you don't re-examine the lies of your childhood, how can you be expected to recognize the lies for what they are?

Finally, there's the "comfort factor". People are often quite comfortable with the childhood fairy-tales, and never give them any thought other than the "warm fuzzies" that such fables create within their minds.

Unless something happens to them that causes them to actually confront these childhood pie-in-the-sky stories? Many people will simply go along with their past.

Don't forget nostalgia-- it plays a role, too.

To sum up: as noted DT and JohnH, to get to atheism from a starting point of theism, requires a person to have critical thinking skills, and a willingness to be introspective. Or else experience a situation which causes basic life-presumptions to be questioned.

Someone with very poor reasoning skills? Will likely come to the same false "conclusions" that he did as a defenseless child.

And remain theist.

And IQ may be many things, but one thing these tests seem to have in common, is testing of basic reasoning and logic.

Someone with a "low" IQ, will not have very good logic and/or reasoning skills, and is ill equipped to discover the mis-matched and faulty logic that all religions have within their dogma (sooner or later).

As I said at the outset? It's not only >not< surprising, its rather to be expected.

Given the problem-set: all religions require at least one leap of illogical thinking to make them 'go'.
Edited by Bob of QF on 01/09/2011 14:27
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
seeker
Bob- You left out a very important factor. I'd be willing to bet you that most religious people are religious because most of the people they know are. Don't underestimate the role that the desire to be a part of society plays in keeping people involved with religion.

Part of being an atheist is taking the chance that friends, relatives, co-workers etc will be alienated from you if or when they find out that you don't accept their beliefs.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
comfortable
Well - that explains a lot, Seeker.

I never did fit in.

I have probably 3 friends outside of family.
One is a 'mystic' who sent me a book by VanPraagh
One is an atheist like me
...and the third one is a condescending, judgemental, self-important guy who believes too much government propaganda and buys into health scams - but as far as I can tell, disdains church and religion.

I stopped trying to 'fit in' along about my 18th birthday. Now I just try to get along.
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The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.
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Men are sheep in credulity, but wolves for conformity.
 
Bob of QF
Good point, Seeker-- I left out our "tribal mentality" from my analysis.

That right there, can overcome a great deal of logical thinking.

Especially if there are few consequences of belonging to the local religious game.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
JohnH
Dare I say it, I am blessed. None of my friends, none of my family, none of the people I contact socially are troubled by my atheism. The only times I have been chastised for it is when I have been overly harsh about theists and theism.

It is remarkable to me the variations in this country. I revel in them at times and am upset at them at times. I have spent the bulk of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am not unusual here and am therefore comfortable in my own beliefs. I will admit a certain amount of pity for you who must cover your beliefs. I also will tell you all that I admire your courage.

PS IQ is bullshit. I have always known how to take tests. It does not make my smart. I can give you the names of several people including my sons who will tell you how dumb I can be.
 
Bob of QF
I agree, JohnH-- IQ tests >>are<< bullshit.

I tried to cover that, in my earlier post-- it tests >>something<< within a human, but I don't think it's all that directly related to raw intelligence.

And I do think the tests are biased to the culture they are written for-- non-cultural members suffer from this bias, just because of the culture >>they<< were born into.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
catman
IQ tests directly measure two things: the ability to take tests (all tests measure this!) and one's prior knowledge. These two indicate a certain intelligence, but the elusive quality of (and quantity of) intelligence itself cannot be measured directly.
Edited by catman on 01/11/2011 01:23
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
comfortable
comfortable wrote:
....I believe that there are different 'types' of intelligence. Someone who is excellent at math may be terrible with navigation/orientation and vice versa. ...


http://www.bbc.co...e-12140064

BBC NEWS Magazine wrote:
London cabbies famously navigate one of the most complex cities in the world.

In 1999, neurologist Eleanor Maguire conducted MRI scans on their brains and compared them with the brain scans of others.

In contrast with non-cabbies, experienced taxi drivers had a greatly enlarged posterior hippocampus - that part of the brain that specialises in recalling spatial representations.

What's more, the size of cabbies' hippocampi correlated directly with each driver's experience: the longer the driving career, the larger the posterior hippocampus.

That showed that spatial tasks were actively changing cabbies' brains. This was perfectly consistent with studies of violinists, Braille readers, meditation practitioners, and recovering stroke victims.

Our brains adapt in response to the demands we put on them.

This is why I cannot accept an 'immortal soul/ghost'. 'I' am my brain. Change the brain, you change 'me'. Pre-frontal lobotomies proved that violent criminals could be 'converted' to peaceful citizens by driving an icepick into their brains. Do mystics actually expect me to believe that an icepick can harm a ghost? Or change it's wishes and desires?
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Edited by comfortable on 01/13/2011 15:56
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The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.
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Men are sheep in credulity, but wolves for conformity.
 
Bob of QF
Indeed.

Modern diagnostic science has long since proven consciousness in a person requires a functioning brain to happen.

Harm, or impair that brain, and consciousness ceases... how about that?

If ghosts were real? To be meaningful, it would >>have<< to preserve the memories of of the person it was a ghost of.

But we can prove this does not happen. In fact? We've proved this many, many times-- every time a person has suffered brain damage, and goes into a coma, and then recovers.

But sadly for these people, they never recover the lost memories--- if they had a "soul" or "ghost" inside preserving their memories, why did this thing not restore the memories lost due to the trauma?

It didn't, because it's not there-- the simplest explanation.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
Doubting Thomas
Not only does the ghost theory sound silly, but also the idea of Hell. We all know that pain is caused by nerve endings sending a pain signal through our nervous system to our brain. Block the signal through drugs like Novocaine or cutting the nerve, and we don't feel pain. Kill our brains and we don't feel anything. So why should I expect to have a painful experience burning in Hell for all eternity? Does our soul (whatever that is supposed to be) sprout nerves and a brain when we die? Why should we be tormented or terrorized by anything in Hell, since there's nothing left of our bodies that could feel pain?

I think it may have been Seeker or another long-time poster on atheists.com which postulated to a Christian that if our souls contain our personality, then why does that personality change if someone suffers a brain injury?
You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me and not you.
 
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